My time out has obviously been good for me. This week I had enough energy to do things that have needed doing for several months. This included a lot of sorting out, recycling, giving away and generally disposing of things no longer needed. It feels good to have done this and I also feel much lighter. There is still more to do and more decisions to make but I am half way there.
I have spent some time reflecting though, taking the time to sit by the large window and watch the activity in the garden. There are plenty of birds around and there are still some butterflies and the occasional dragonfly. There are also lots of bees around as there are still flowers in bloom although we are getting to the end of the summer season as autumn is approaching now.
Another thing I have been doing is making scrapbooks. I buy rather nice blank ones with a brown cover and brown pages inside. Very earthy! I sorted out photos, got them printed and decided which photos to go in which scrapbook. I have made scrapbooks before and they are good as memory books. I like looking back at places I have been and what I did in those places and what I saw. It makes me appreciate how much travelling I have done in the last thirty years even though I only stay in England nowadays.
The scrapbooks are also a way of recording the different butterflies, damselflies and dragonflies I have seen as many are specific to certain areas and are not widespread. For me it is also about recording the beauty of our natural world and allows me to stay grounded and strong while the outside world is crumbling down around us. Whatever happens in the future, I will have records of what it is like now in our natural world. The photo is taken in my garden where the cosmos flowers reign.
Although I am still ‘taking time out’ in many respects I felt I wanted to write about this theme. I originally thought of writing a book with the above title but decided that it would be far too unwieldy and very pricey to publish. So I decided to make several scrapbooks instead. There is an art to making good scrapbooks and I have made many in the past. This time round I purchased three A4 size scrapbooks with a brown cover and brown pages inside.
I pondered for some time about how to do this but decided that taking specific places like my garden and various nature reserves for each book was the best way. Then came the task of sorting photos for printing. I have thousands of photos on my computer dating from when I had my first digital camera. I also have three or four boxes of photos from before that time.
What I noticed when going through these thousands of photos is that very few were of people or buildings and most were of landscapes and the beasties that live in the landscape. I have found photos of dragonflies taken in 2015, hiding away in a different folder than where they should be. But it has been a wonderful experience looking at the photos and remembering when they were taken and who I was with at that time.
Choosing which photos for the scrapbook is very hard though. I love all my dragonfly, damselfly and butterfly photos so how can I choose just one of each kind? It is the same with the photos of birds feeding in the garden and the many pictures of flowers. I need more ‘time out’ in order to do this but I felt I would like to let you know how I was using my time out.
This week has been a bit of a roller coaster emotionally and many memories have surfaced but I don’t know how I got these memories. So I have spent time looking for answers but not really got those yet. Maybe you, my readers, can give me some answers.
Most of these memories are to do with World War II. I was born during the war in 1941. The war ending some few years later in 1945 and I remember the things that came afterwards quite well, like ration books for a start. I also remember the dried egg powder in the larder. I remember the siren telling us to get somewhere safe and the searchlights in the sky trying to trace the bombers.
But I have said for many years that I remember the bomb that dropped in the next street just a few houses away from ours. Later research has shown me that the bomb dropped one week before I was born. So how do I remember it? We did not have a bomb shelter and my mother always said she felt safe under the stairs. It was known as the glory hole and was not very large but you could sit in it. Imagine my mother, nine months pregnant sitting in there. How did she feel? Did her emotions communicate themselves to me? Is this why and how I can remember this bomb dropping close by?
I do know that I get claustrophobic in small spaces! Other than these emotional memories for that is what they are, I have very few memories of my life in a visual way. In other words I don’t have photos or see images from my past in my memories. There is a block there to these things.
I have looked at memories stored in the aura and in our souls but for me these mean more of a past life memory thing not what you could call recent this life memories. Did all this emotional stuff come from my mothers emotions when I was in the womb? If so did she carry similar emotions from her mother. My mother was born in the first World War so maybe these war memories are stored somehow in our genes. This is getting a bit deep so I will stop here but if any of you have any thoughts on this then please let me know. The photo is of my mother and my grandmother.
Earlier this week I visited the National Memorial Arboretum. It was a beautiful place to visit. There are many memorials not only to service men and women but also for events like the 9/11 attack, for all children who have died because of terror attacks and wars, and for stillborn babies. It was a place to sit and enjoy the surrounding landscape, the river and the woodland and a place to remember those who had left us in one circumstance or another.
The guide book states ‘ Remembrance is living, changing and part of everyday life. It comforts those left behind and pays respect to what is past’. Remembrance is very personal and means different things to different people. The ancients built burial mounds for their dead as a memorial maybe, while today we have various types of memorials. There is a burial mound in the Arboretum.
We choose what to remember and what to forget. I have various items in my home that bring back memories or my parents and friends. My father was an accomplished carpenter and I have two chests of drawers in my bedroom that he made. They will last longer than I will as they were so well made. So each day as I use them I remember my father. I have a painting on the wall done by a friend who died a couple of years ago. He used to work with my father when I was young so lots of memories there.
We keep photos of our and our families activities and when we look at the photos we remember the events and those people in the photos. My son and I recently dedicated some woodland to a friend who passed to the Summerlands recently, so each time we visit we remember our friend and his life. As a druid, I remember my ancestors especially at the time of Samhain.
Remembrance is therefore part of my everyday life. Is it part of yours?
I bought some beautiful poppies (artificial ones) at the Arboretum. I love poppies and they are also a universal symbol of remembrance although many will not wear them on Armistice day as they believe the poppy glorifies war. I am not a believer in war and prefer peace but I am happy to wear a poppy to remember those who died in the war and that includes the many civilians who also died as a result of the war.
Loss is something that most of us see at least once a week. We lose our belongings for example. Sometimes we lose precious belongings, items which mean a lot to us. There is a big difference between losing a pencil for example, a twenty pound note and a watch that belonged to a member of your family that has long gone. Losing something precious like the watch makes us feel sad and even if we get a new watch it does not replace the old one in our hearts.
Losing a pet is even harder to deal with and the grief can last for many months. You never forget them or the joy they brought you but they keep a piece of your heart for ever. Many people have pets instead of children so when a pet dies, the loss to them is greater. Losing someone close to you is even harder than losing a pet. My father died in 1981, my husband in 1995 and my mother in 2003 so you would think I know how to grieve by now. What I have found is that each time someone close to me dies, it brings back all the memories of the previous deaths. So this week I have been feeling a deep sadness at the loss of a very dear friend.
If you search the internet you will find lots of help and suggestions to help you deal with your grief. Some of these I have found helpful, like keeping to your daily routine as much as you can. You may not feel like doing anything but it is good to actually do the housework or go shopping however painful it seems. There will be bad days but I found that the gap between the bad days and the good ones got longer and there became more of the good days. It takes time to come to terms with losing someone close to you. Anniversaries are the worst days but after the first year of grief you have got through most of those. It is important to try to do joyful things even though you feel sad. I have found that sitting in the garden watching the bees and butterflies helps me
Talking to others or writing a journal can also help. But I need to say that losing loved ones does not always happen through death. There is divorce and separation for other reasons and there are those family members who decide to shun the rest of the family and deliberately lose contact. Grieving also happens in these cases.
One thing to remember that whoever you have lost, they have a small space in your heart where you will remember them for ever and you will remember the good times not just the bad ones.
We are often told not to look back but to be ‘in the now’ or to look forward to the future. But there are various reasons why we can look back and times when it is good to look back.
I like to look back at my life journey so I can see what I have learned, or not learned as the case may be, so I can decide what I need to do next. I can reflect on my journey so far. I also like to look back in history to see how countries and people have changed over the centuries.
Looking back at my life can also bring to mind some wonderful memories, some which I have shared with others and some when I have made journeys alone. Yesterday I went out with my son and his partner to a local, wildflower farm. The sun was hot, the sky a clear blue, the flowers colourful and the butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies were out in abundance and stunningly beautiful. Tea and cake added to the day and it will be a day to remember when in years to come, I cannot get out to enjoy nature.
In my history/genealogy research, I am of course looking back, but I try to find out what life was like then, what people wore, and how they lived so that I am in a way bringing them alive. It enables me to see how much our world has changed in the last three or four hundred years.
So looking back for me is important. It enables me to make changes in the way I live my life and it also enables me to see how I do things differently than my ancestors. Do you look back and if so do you reflect on what you see? Does it help you to change the way you do things now? Does it help you to find out what is important in your life as it does in mine?
Here is one of the dragonflies from yesterdays memories.